"Italianos Creek" and Work Advice for Creative FolkssteemCreated with Sketch.

in art •  10 months ago

”Italianos Creek” 16"x16" oil on rough linen
by Lee Gordon Seebach

(private art collection, Washington, D.C.)

Getting To Work

Yes, creating art is work. Serious work, that is. And it IS work. Very challenging, taxing work.

My mother (not an artist of any type) used to think that painting was "relaxing." Relaxing? Hardly (except for hobbyist painters who do it simply for pleasure). I would tell her over and over that it wasn't, that it was anything but relaxing. Yes, getting into "the zone" is a wonderful state, but getting into it can be elusive and rare, and even when you're there, it's a time of intense concentration and effort.

But getting to work can be the most difficult thing of all. After all, it's scary, putting yourself on the line. I might fail and struggle and curse and get frustrated, and who wants that?

I have a secret: I work one hour a day, minimum, Monday through Friday. (I can take Saturday and Sunday off.) I set a timer, and when the alarm goes off, I can stop. I often continue for a while, but one hour - at least - and I'm done. I then write down in a log how much time I worked so I can review it later to remind myself that I'm actually accomplishing and progressing. This helps me feel some encouragement: "See! I can get work done!" Solo creators must be disciplined, self-starters and it's great to have a way to lovingly kick yourself in the seat of the pants, to outsmart that little voice inside that says, "Come on, blow off work today. Let's head for the beach!"

One hour a day may not sound like much, but it is when you're involved in difficult, creative work. And it adds up day by day, a momentum is created, and I can progress consistently. "Smalls move, Ellie. Small moves." (From the movie "Contact.") Without some sort of work ethic, I'd never get anywhere, and step by step, I continue on my creative journey.

I think of it this way: I need a bit of discipline to get anything done, i.e., I need at least some consistency and if I don't have a minimum requirement, I might not - and probably won't - do anything at all. I simply cannot wait for "inspiration" or paint "when I feel like it" because that would mean painting about once a month or so, and that would be very bad. The road to success is a difficult one on which to travel: it takes effort and discipline to make progress, but the backslide takes no effort at all, so constant plodding is necessary.

So, a swift little kick in the butt to just start, which is to say, start the timer, sit back and study the painting on my easel, decide the first, most obvious thing to be done on it, get up, pick up a brush, stick it into the paint, and put it on the canvas. Voila! I got started. It's easier to start work when I just realize that all it takes is a little push, to just do it. Once I begin, the momentum is created to repeat this working procedure and the hour will tick away - sometimes agonizingly slowly, sometimes quickly as though in a time warp, most often somewhere in between - but it will go by.

Painting seriously is hard work, but I figure that I can stand just about anything for one hour (within reason, that is. I wouldn't want to be waterboarded for an hour, for example). I do take frequent breaks. About 20 - 30 minutes of concentrated work and I need to step away, go outside, look up at the sky, go for a short walk, etc. But then it's right back into the studio.

You might be thinking: "Don't you love painting?" Well, yes, I love it, but it's not what you think. Loving something doesn't necessarily mean that you enjoy the hard work involved. There is an enjoyable aspect to work, to be sure, but it's not "fun." It's a grown-up sort of love, an appreciation for work, even though it's difficult.

I suspect that anyone who says they love to work and practice isn't really intellectually honest about it. And again, I'm talking about serious creative work. Mindlessly daubing paint on a canvas is pretty much just being a hobbyist (nothing at all wrong with that if painting is your hobby). Professionals put incredible demands for excellence on themselves. Anne-Sophie Mutter, the great violinist, said that she hates to practice! That's being honest.

I may put off starting (approach avoidance, I've heard it called...procrastination is another term for it). I may need to psyche up a little bit, get distractions out of the way, turn off the phone, lock the door to my studio (it really helps to have a dedicated workspace where you have sanctuary), make sure I'm not hungry, etc. But I know I will put in that hour, at least. And when I do, I feel very good about myself. But procrastination is very common because who doesn't want to avoid facing a canvas when it's such a demanding thing to get anything worthwhile done on it? I'd much rather sit with a hot cup of coffee and play a fun game on my computer. But I know that NOT doing my one hour will leave me feeling miserable and like a huge loser. So, I just start and "get it over with."

And yes, sometimes life gets in the way of getting that hour in. I may have to go to the dentist - ugh. My refrigerator may decide to die - damn it! A neighbor may need some urgent help. But that's ok because unavoidable distractions come up for everyone. Even Rembrandt! In the long run, it's doing the best I possibly can to stick to my schedule that really counts and as long as I do, I'm good.

I hope this helps someone out there in Steemit-land who might be facing work-related challenges. You're not alone in your struggles, believe me. We're all human, but we humans need to find strategies to overcome our weaknesses. Perhaps my ideas will help you as they've helped me.

"Happiness: the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."

- John F. Kennedy

My website: Seebach Fine Art

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I only just noticed you're back. Good Thingtm. Refollowed, and all that.


Hello @ocrdu Thanks! I won't be posting as often as I did before. I just don't have the time or inclination.

Thank you for posting @chessmonster.

Lovely painting.....I can see this scene in real time anytime.....however this artistic rendering is the very epitome of its essence......thank you.

Appreciate hearing your system of working and maintaining your talent.



@bentleycapital Thank you for the kinds words.

Amazing Advice, you are pro. :)


Thank you @coinverse Glad you like it.

Awesome painting with the message behind it. :)


Consistency is the key here that is true :)
great post dear


Yes indeed. With consistency comes momentum. With momentum comes progress. Step by step. "Life by the inch is a cinch. Life by the yard is hard." Well, life is rarely a cinch, but we can only do one thing at a time and have only so much energy, enthusiasm, interest, etc. Much better to pace yourself and take it in increments.

I walk 25-30 miles a week. I don't always feel like it and often start to bog down when out on the road. I just tell myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other one and not think about how far it is to meet my daily goal of 4 miles a day. I end up getting it done that way.

that's something really different from you :)
thanks for sharing


You're welcome @starboye Every once in awhile I like to share my thoughts. Hopefully this message does someone some good. I've been painting for 50+ years and I've gotten wiser, and have a lot to share. Stay tuned.

creating art is a very challenging work but you seems to be doing it very nicely :)


Thanks @cityslicker I wouldn't have it any other way. 😎 If it were easy, there wouldn't be much challenge to it.

what a creativity!!!!!!lol

A vigorous, colorful piece.

challenges comes to test the best of you keep challenging the odds :)


I have no idea what that means but I'll upvote you anyway because you're a loyal supporter and commenter. @blazing 😀

Once I thought the water is a active one then I realised it's a wonderful painting.


Your comment is much appreciated @bikash-tutor

Yes, art is work; pretty much all forms of creativity is work. Having kept galleries for 15 years I've heard that from dozens-- if not hundreds of artists.

Resteeming this-- hope more of our artist followers read it.

The successful ones share in common (like you) that they do something every day; inspired, or not inspired. Often they work 40 hrs/wk at a "day job" and still manage to find an hour or two a day to paint or sculpt or create music.


Thanks @reddragonfly If my article helps them, that would be good. I know from my own experience that it helps to know that even the artists I admire greatly have had their own struggles. They don't advertise that fact, however, preferring to let their followers think they can walk on water! I've known some of the top artists in the world personally and they all have bathrooms in their homes. LOL Bettina Steinke, the great portrait painter, told me (or maybe I read it somewhere) that she would find excuses to avoid getting to work: she'd balance her checkbook, water her garden, etc. Yet, she would have a schedule to get into her studio at 9am each day and get down to business. If someone as great as she was procrastinated, I don't feel so bad when I find myself doing the same thing.

I agree.
However, for me, getting started is by far the harder part.
I have ideas that I know will take weeks to get done right.

So, I tend to avoid them... sorta.
It actually seems that what I really miss is an actual plan.
I only have this sorta picture in mind... and if I sketch it out, it becomes apparent that the subjects cannot all be arranged as thought, and still be one picture.

I am currently only able to make myself do the one hour thing on woodworking (building furniture)


Thanks for reading this and commenting @builderofcastles I hope my article does you some good in your creative work. Good luck.

Dear Artist ! FineArtNow is a new place for artists on Steemit ! Become our friend ! See you soon !


I'm not interested. Thanks anyway. @fineartnow


A neon, flashing comment. What the heck? LOL @ashik785

The art in this post is amazing